When I was assigned to write on 2017 parenting goals I wanted to have something really profound for you. Something that would make you think, “Oh, that’s so good.” But, here’s the truth -
My parenting goal is survival.
I know that this doesn’t sound like a pretty, Christian answer.
But, if we are honest, parenting is the best, hardest job ever. EVERY DAY we wonder if what we said will help our children become better adults or drive them to the therapist’s chair. We question if we spent enough time with time with them or if they felt ignored. Are we doing enough to translate safety and love from us and their God or did we miss that boat loading the next load of dishes?
My girls will tell you that I love a clean house. Grace’s second day of kindergarten she fell from some playground equipment, badly scraping her face, and insisted on finishing the day. To ease my anxiety, I cleaned out the front hall closet. Like I took everything out of it. When I had a day off last week and the children did not, I cleaned my laundry room. I wish for organized space because when my physical space isn’t cluttered life feels more breathable too.
Needless to say, it came as no surprise to our children when my husband and I added to their chore list after the New Year. Everything was going merrily until school break ended, at which point our normal busy of regular homework + nightly activities resumed, not to mention discussions about the day and giving time to matters of the heart. Suddenly, my perfect system felt not so perfect. Expectation competed for quality moments and, less than two weeks in, we found ourselves reassessing the “musts” of life.
Certainly these ideals don’t have to come at extremes - and our goal is still to work together to get things done – but I carry new mindset.
Sometimes I need to scrap the bedtime wish to stroke my girl’s hair, pray over her, and have a good chat. it’s okay for the family to skip the dishes to play a game of UNO because our together time that day is limited. The next thing on the list can wait so we can do projects and read and get our high and low sharing in before sleep.
Perfect order might just look differently than I thought all along and it took a busier life and growing children to help me see it so. More important than an organized, put together exterior is a connected, put together us. It requires an attentiveness to what each of the people in my house is feeling and experiencing that day. It necessitates flexibility over rigidity and grace for myself to let imagined perfection go in favor of doing the real family work of lifetime reward.
Doing the next right thing.
I feel a peace. Who knows? Maybe this is the key to not only survive, but thrive?